Aggregator as a term has been around for a while. Still, it somehow came more into use with the advent of all things online. As Merriam-Webster Dictionary says, it has become especially connected with “a website or software application that aggregates information (such as news stories or website updates) from various Internet sources.”So what would, in that case, be a translation aggregator?

The developer of an open-source application of the same name gives a handy description of his app. “Translation Aggregator is a program that machine translates texts through multiple sources and presents them in one convenient window.”

While this specifically applies to the program he developed, it can also serve as a basis for a more general principle of how a translator aggregator works.

Any given translator aggregator gathers information from various available online sources. It could be an app like Google Translator or an online dictionary. An aggregator then gives the search results in a single, presentable form for the end-user. It usually does not make a final choice but gives the end-user possibilities to chose from.

As could be expected, the results such an aggregator comes up with are often in a general form. Also, in many cases, these results do not correspond to the needs of the end-user. So why would anybody use such a tool if it doesn’t present precise translation results?

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This post was updated in April 2021

Who uses a translation aggregator?

Using any translation tool that is not geared towards professionals can generally come about the following reasons:

  • the user just needs a brief translation – up to a few words;
  • he needs to get a general idea about what the text in a foreign language says as to decide whether it needs further translation;
  • the user is pressed for time and needs a very quick translation answer.

translation aggregator for translating languages

So why a translation aggregator? The term itself and it’s meaning indicate that the potential user might need more translated information than just a few words or a general overview. Otherwise, why would you need to aggregate translated information from a number of sources?

It turns out that currently most of the users of translation aggregators are a particular type of gamers. It is gamers that want to play sophisticated Japanese visual novel games. These are all in their original language, and if you do not know the language, you are stuck.

Of course, you can try and play the game with a standard machine translation tool. But, no matter how sophisticated it is it can only give you an approximation of an answer. An answer that actually might not fit what the gamer is looking for at that moment. And as with any software game, you are pressed for time. That is where a translation aggregator comes into play, often literally.

Another element that has importance here is the structural difference between written Japanese and a large number of other languages. While in most languages a single written word is a symbol with a single meaning, in Japanese, a single written character can represent a whole phrase. That is where a translation aggregator can play its part.

How do translation aggregators work?

When translating form the so-called CJK languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), current online translation tools are bound to make approximations. In such cases, they can often present you with translations that don’t suit a particular need.

Using a translation aggregator can represent a solution when you need to make a choice. A quick choice at that. As mentioned above, any given translation aggregator compiles information from a number of available (programmed) sources and presents it jointly to the end-user. It is then up to the user to decide which translation suits his needs the best.

But to do such an essentially complex task, an end-user, a gamer in this case, needs a few pieces of software.

As one of the users explains in his blog, the first app actually needs to separate chapters into sentences and then copy a particular sentence to a clipboard. It allows then the user to “type the translation for the sentence right below the sentence. “ Translation Assistant is one such software.

With a separate phrase or a sentence, the user can then process it for translation through another app. It could be the above-mentioned Translation Aggregator. Still, even when such an app presents a number of possible translations, sometimes the meaning is not quite comprehensible. Yet another piece of software might come into play.

An app like Mecab further breaks down the sentences into romaji words. It “displays the meaning if the mouse hovers over the words. This helps to decipher the meaning of sentences that the translation websites tend to butcher. “ edict2 can also help “in deciphering meanings of words that the websites would otherwise miss.”

There is yet more software to use to make a translation aggregator effective

Currently, practically all end-users of translation aggregators and related software have to rely on what individual or small developers come up with. One such essential piece of software is

Anime Games Text Hooker (AGTH). This is a free tool that captures text from running programs. As another user explains, “its main use is to pluck text out of visual novels.”

ATLAS V14 by Fujitsu is one of the rare fully commercial pieces of software most translation aggregators rely on. It has a more general use as a machine translation software package for translations fro Japanese to English and English to Japanese. almost all of the translation aggregators use it as one of its basic sources.

JParser, like Mecab (above), is another supplemental tool that “show the furigana of kanji and the dictionary meaning of most words (here).” Again, most translation aggregator developers use it in conjunction with all or most of the above-mentioned tools to create a workable translation aggregator. An aggregator that gamers that do not speak Japanese could use.

translation aggregator must knows

Translation aggregator possibilities

An application like Atlas V14 (above) is aimed for more general translation use. Still, currently, the use of more detailed translation aggregators has serious use mostly with gamers that want to play Japanese anime games.

These are the users that need more possibilities and choices from the offered translations, and they need them as quickly as possible. All that from a language or languages that in their written form are structurally different than theirs.

At the moment, other end users and translation clients still cannot only rely on translation aggregators. They might have a bit more time available and more importantly, they need as precise translation as possible. For that, they still have to turn to professional translators and agencies.

On the other hand, translation aggregators can become a handy tool for professionals as an aid that can give them possible solutions. After all, in many instances, they are pressed for time with all those ASAP messages they get for any given translation.

Still, for the gamers that want to use original Japanese anime games, a translation aggregator is a necessity. It will give them a choice of possible translations that could bring them closer to an understanding of the game they are playing. To that effect, a translator aggregator is an essential tool for them. But, in the end, they still have to make a choice themselves.

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